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Comelec warns candidates vs vote-buying on last day of BSKE campaign

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) issued a warning to candidates, telling them not to engage in vote-buying on the final day of campaign for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE).

“Don’t be tempted to buy votes,” Comelec Chairperson George Erwin Garcia said. “God is watching. We are watching.”

The Comelec warned that candidates caught buying votes might face disqualification and imprisonment of one to six years.

Vote sellers, meanwhile, may get the same length of jail time.

The Comelec will suspend the proclamation of winning candidates who have pending cases related to vote-buying, premature campaigning and illegal campaign activities.

“They are thinking that Comelec is not serious in filing cases but we are firm not to proclaim those with pending cases should they win,” Garcia said.

On Friday, Garcia disclosed that the agency is in the process of verifying over 100 confirmed cases of vote-buying, with the intention of pursuing charges against the responsible candidates.

According to the Comelec chairperson, there are two possible cases that can be filed in connection to confirmed incidents of vote-buying: one against the candidate buying votes and another against voters who willingly exchange their votes for benefits.

Individuals involved in vote-buying incidents who choose to come forward and provide information may be exempt from punishment and instead be considered as potential state witnesses. — with reports by Cristina Chi